To fight austerity we must quit the EU

Wages won’t improve while Britain remains part of the European Union.

Withdrawal from the EU is the prerequisite to enable Britain to launch a programme of  direct public sector intervention through public ownership and control and adopt an active industrial policy. 

By withdrawing on progressive terms, Britain would massively assist all those countries across the EU struggling to renegotiate terms and end the prospect of years of mass unemployment and falling wages.

To mobilise a mass movement against austerity the key demands are the protection of what remains of the welfare state and policies to create secure, sustainable employment.

Between now and 2017 the question of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU will increasingly dominate political discussion.

Supporters of the British government’s right-wing austerity policies quickly point out that demands for a public ownership alternative are incompatible with Britain’s legal status within the EU — and this applies equally to the alternative economic strategies advanced by the TUC and the STUC, such as public ownership of Royal Mail or renationalisation of railways.

Unless the left and the trade union movement challenges EU austerity, these policies will continue under future British governments. 

Social services will be decimated and the housing crisis will worsen — providing Ukip and the extreme right with the arguments on the ground for even more reactionary positions.

In Europe the right is on the march. Support for pro-EU social democrats is collapsing. Racists and fascists are establishing bases within working-class communities and exploiting the EU for chauvinist purposes.

This is why the left, the trade union movement and all those opposed to austerity must be able to put a clear alternative that links EU withdrawal to the fight for jobs and public services.

EU withdrawal on progressive terms is the key unifying factor in providing a popular alternative to austerity, racism and xenophobia.

The left has to make itself the champion of the democratic right for a referendum on EU membership — and use it to argue for a new society that can carry forward all the best achievements of the past century and realise the longer-term goals of those who fought for them.

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